A blog about my life with dogs.......

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dog park do's, play training and more amazing dog tricks!

A dog park pal.

     Finally feeling better! I took the boys to the dog park today! They ran and ran and ran to there hearts content. The dog park is a very happy place for dogs and people alike. Just a few weeks ago a fellow dog parker said to me "It's like heaven isn't?" The man was just so happy to see his dog happy and running free. A smile on his face and the face of almost every other park goer I saw. Until I left the park. As Bugsy and Comet and I leashed up and closed the gate behind us a man and his 3 dogs came bounding toward us. The dogs jumped and lunged at the end of their leashes and the man gave up in frustration and let go of the leashes. His dogs came clamoring at us and circled around me resulting in a sniff party that wrapped the leashes around my knees and I fell. Hit the dirt hard onto my hands and knees. NOT the way I hoped to end my morning at the park. As I regained my composure and stood I looked at the man who turned his head away from me.
"Excuse me." I said. "But I think you are to keep your dogs on leash in this area." I tried to be polite as I wiped the dirt from my knees and hands.
"Why?" The man said shooting me a nasty look.
I should have thought of a better response. But I said "Well, gee I don't know why but there is a big orange sign on the front gate saying that is the rule."
"Sorry" The man grumbled.

     I do not want to be the dog park disciplinarian. I just want to be the woman who is having fun with her dogs. There sure is a reason for that neon orange sign that states the rules of the park. Rules which include picking up after your dog, keeping your dog on leash in the fenced gravel areas, and keeping to a 2dogs to 1person ratio.  Instead of giving a lecture to each person breaking the rules I do my best to set a good example. If my dogs social skills seem to have fizzled I take them out of the park. I pick up poo when I see it, even if it didn't come from my dog, and I remove trash from the park when I see it. Heck, why not? I love the dog park! For a refresher on the rules to my local dog park click here.  Please, join me in setting a good example by following the rules and going the extra mile at the dog park!

     On another dog park related note, I see so many people going to the dog park grumpy! I guess even the Grinch had a dog! Putting a positive spin on spending time with your dog can do wonders for your relationship with your dog as well as your own health and well being! Instead of huffing and puffing, "arg! Time to walk the dog, AGAIN!"
-Keep a positive attitude!  It's contagious!
-Find a way to reward yourself for the efforts. I really love camel lattes. So after an hour and a half outside in the cold with the boys I warmed up with a treat from my local coffee shop. If the dogs are lucky we will run into coffee shop friends and they will get some extra petting!
-Remember the 'natural rewards' of exercising your dog
*exercise(for you!) *fresh air * bonding with your dog.
 Need more encouragement that spending time with your dog is great for your health? Read this article from BARK.  How about some info on how dog ownership beats the health effects of cat ownership? 

     Another observation I've made is how many people spend the leash time from the car to the off leash park verbally complaining about or to their dog. Here is the scenario.
As the dog becomes excited for the freedom to run in the park the dog pulls on the leash. The person walks forward to the park gates and through them as the dog pulls. Often the person is speaking something like the following. "Whoa! OH MY! Why do you act this way! FIDO! FIDO! You will rip my arms off, FIIIIDDDOOO! AH! HERE! There we are!" click off with the leash.
If this is you, take heart, we have all been there at one time or another.

     Here are a few things to remember..... By letting your dog pull you from the car, threw each gate, into the off leash park and then letting them go straight away you are rewarding bad behavior and encouraging your dog to ignore your voice. (oops!) If your dog acts wacky and then is rewarded with the 'real life reward' of running free at the park, then each time you visit you are sure to relive this scene again and again. Instead, work on only moving forward(person) if the leash is loose. If the leash is being pulled, STOP. When your dog turns to look at you and loosens the leash (even ever so slightly) move forward. This may take awhile so keep that caramel latte reward in mind for yourself! When you reach the dog park gates ask your dog to sit. When, and only when, your dog is sitting politely unhook the leash and set him free. By doing these things you are helping your dog learn and practice patience.

Here are some words about dog play.

 Tip of my hat! Wag of my Tail!
I'll give a Tip of my hat to Patricia McConnell and her great training ideas. Here is a link to another snip-it of her and her dog . And a wag of my tail to Operation Socialization a website dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of puppy socialization. SO IMPORTANT!

       Last but not least....
                   A really neat video from the 1930's filled with dog tricks! 

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